Absence management

Issue...

Our client approached us for advice. Their employee had been absent from work for five months due to suffering with a back problem. During this time there had been no communication but they now wanted to address the issue.

What we advised...

Potentially the back problem could fall under the scope of disability and therefore in order to ensure a potentially fair dismissal, the client would have to follow a specific medical capability procedure. We stressed that communication is important during periods when employees are absent from the workplace so this was rectified and the employee invited to attend a welfare meeting. It was during this meeting that the employee gave their consent for the employer to approach their GP for a report on their condition. Once the GP’s report came back, the employee was invited to attend a medical capability meeting and following consideration of both the report and the employee’s views it was deemed that dismissal was a fair outcome for all concerned.

Potential gross misconduct

Issue...

An assault had taken place on one of our client’s premises; an employee had received a serious wound to the neck following an altercation with their colleague. The Police were involved and the employee who inflicted the wound was in custody. The client did not want the employee back on the premises.

What we advised...

Initially we advised our client to obtain statements from all witnesses who were present at the time of the assault. It transpired that the employee was on remand and therefore we advised that there was no need to suspend. The employee was given a custodial sentence for his actions. Whilst this would have normally fallen under the gross misconduct category, due to the employee’s imprisonment, we advised the client to end the employment relationship whereby the contract ends without notice.

Changes to contracts of employment

Issue...

Our client wished to make changes to their employees’ contracts of employment regarding the payment of sickness pay. All existing contracts provided for 15 days’ full payment for sickness absence; yet the client wished to reduce this to statutory sick pay only.

What we advised...

The proposal was deemed to affect a fundamental term in the employment contract, therefore in order to change it all those affected had to agree to the change. We advised on an informal process to begin with and if any individuals refused to accept the change then a formal consultation process would be followed with the view to enforcing the change, however we had to ensure that there were genuine business reasons behind the proposal. We had to move to a formal consultation stage because our clients were met with resistance; the employees who had refused to the change were invited to attend a formal meeting. Our client had clear financial reasons for making this change and reiterated this in the meeting. Following the meeting the employees agreed to the change and this was confirmed in writing where each were issued with a variation of contract terms letter.

To find out more about how Opsium can help your business, call one of our team on 0161 603 2156, email info@opsium.co.uk or fill in the form here and we’ll get back to you.